UTAG members embark on strike

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Apart from salary arrears, UTAG is demanding that the agreed premium factor be applied to the current basic salary as the appropriate restoration per its earlier communique.

The UTAG strike comes on the heels of similar action taken by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) which was called off on Thursday, March 28, 2013 to pave way for negotiations with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).

At the Ghana Institute of Journalism most of the lecture halls were empty as of 12.15 p.m. But the Daily Graphic learnt that part-time lecturers were at post writes Seth J. Bokpe.

The situation was no different at the University of Professional Studies (UPS), where the students, oblivious of the strike, turned up in their numbers for lectures only to meet lecture halls without teachers.

At the University of Ghana, there was no sign of lecturers in most of the lecture halls the Daily Graphic visited.

Some students, however, said some of the lecturers turned up in the morning to teach but abandoned the exercise midstream when they got wind of the strike.

From Kumasi, Kwame Asare Boadu reports that life at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Kumasi Campus of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) was virtually dead, as lecturers began an indefinite strike.

The usually busy lecture halls were deserted and a number of students were found roaming about on campus.

Some of them were also seen doing group discussions under trees.

A senior lecturer at the UEW, Kumasi, told the Daily Graphic that they had asked their leaders not to give in to any pleas to back off their decision unless they were given their due under the Single Spine Salary Structure.

 At the Navrongo Campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS), the lecturers joined the strike declared by the UTAG over the payment of all salary arrears owed them from 2012.

At the Faculty of Applied Sciences of the UDS, some students were seen loitering with very little profitable activity in the lecture halls. Some students told the Daily Graphic that lecturers did not turn up for work.

The members of the executive of the local branch of UTAG were unavailable to comment on the industrial action.

Meanwhile, the National Labour Commission (NLC) has described the strike by members of UTAG as illegal and deliberate reports Caroline Boateng.

The commission is, however, incapacitated because UTAG did not communicate its intention to strike as stipulated under Section 159 of the Labour Law of 2003.

The section states that, "Where the parties fail to agree to refer the dispute to voluntary arbitration or the dispute remains unresolved at the end of the arbitration proceeding, either party intending to take strike action or institute lockout, shall give written notice of this to the other party and the cCommission, with seven days after failure to agree to refer the dispute to voluntary arbitration or the termination of the proceedings."

The Head of the Public Affairs Department of the NLC,  Mrs Charlotte Hanson, in an interview, said "they have not notified as stated in the Labour Law."

She said in 2010, one of the labour unions of teachers embarked on strike that went for compulsory arbitration at the NLC.

The result of the compulsory arbitration did not satisfy the union and the matter went to the court.

According to Mrs Hanson,  the first point raised by the judge was the evidence of strike based on which the NLC had referred the issue for compulsory arbitration.

She said media reports were not enough for the NLC to act, as Section 159 of the Labour Law stipulated a notice to the NLC of an intended strike.

Mrs Hanson said this year, social partners met in the Volta Region, where the issue of notification before a strike action could take place was discussed.

She said all the labour unions were present, and thus, the action by UTAG after that meeting, to go on strike without notification could be deliberate.

That notwithstanding, Mrs Hanson said, the NLC could call UTAG and listen to its grievances but would not be definite if that would be done.

Story by Graphic Reporters/Graphic.com.gh